Thecontrollerproject’s First Contest, With Prizes


One of [Caleb]’s side projects before he left us was TheControllerProject, a place for controller and console modders to hook up with gamers with disabilities. Things must be hopping over there, because [Caleb] just announced his first contest, with prizes, even.

The goal of this contest is to make the trigger buttons on XBox and PS3 controllers able to be controlled from the top of the controller. This is a huge problem for gamers with disabilities, and no open system currently exists to solve this problem. If you can make some sort of mechanical device to turn shoulder-mounted buttons into top-mounted actuators, just host it somewhere and win a prize.

The prizes are an iFixit toolkit and magnetic mat. The first five people to send in a solution to the shoulder mounted button problem get this prize. Originally, [Caleb] thought about tearing apart these controllers and soldering extra buttons, but a snap-on mechanical solution is much easier to install.

If you design a solution to this problem, send it in (but send it to [Caleb] first!) and we’ll probably feature it too.

22 thoughts on “Thecontrollerproject’s First Contest, With Prizes

  1. Thanks guys!

    I hope people see that there is a specific goal here. I don’t need complicated solutions involving re-routing electronics, because that is inefficient. I can only help one person every month or so doing that.

    What we need is a simple mechanical solution that can be 3d printed and just snapped on or glued on. This has the potential to help so many more people.

    1. The first thing that popped into my mind was a pneumatic system, with a syringe for each button mounted under the controller, connected to a bladder (e.g. a mini hot water bottle) held under the armpit with an elastic band (like is used to hold MP3 players.). Squeezing the bladder would extend the plunger of the syringe, pushing against a lever, which pressing the shoulder button down. Not only would it be cheap and easy to make, it would also have the advantage of being analog.

      1. This would work for one handed players, but anything that requires sustained use of muscles that you don’t normally sustain will not work for people with muscular dystrophy. Just a though.

        I say design it out in detail to the point of proof of concept, this could be one of the winners! It doesn’t have to work for everyone.

      2. Not a syringe but pouches of thin plastic or leather. Pouches pneumatically actuated thru hoses from spring held up pouches at the sending end are faster by a long shot than a glass syringe, the rubber stopped ones wouldn’t work at all.
        Personally I am handicapped when doing important things with my left hand over the right.
        That little cross button I disdain, give me a joystick with buttons on the handle.
        I know someone who is disabled in one hand who plays a lot, we have talked about this.
        Nintendo made us all lefties! Joysticks were the norm before that little tiny flat controller.
        Those two horned controllers put your hands in the same position as wearing handcuffs (your going to the police station) yuck!

    2. I have a very simple mechanical solution that can be built with a specific thing most people have around their house or bought from a dollar store. However the solution is not super robust, it would require making a new one when it begins to wear out. I’d guess for a heavy gamer it’d last a week, more casual a couple months. But it is something that could be built within minutes. Curious how this would fare.

    3. I don’t think it needs bladders and dohickys to make it work, nice ideas but a tad over complicated, how about a simple lever on a dowel/rod system? controller goes into a simple frame leaving the top still exposed, the back of the frame is just taller than the buttons, 1 dowel each for l1/r1 and l2/r2, Then it’s just a simple question of making suitable levers, either 3d printed, cnc’d, laser or cut using a fretsaw/scrollsaw/junior hacksaw.

      The levers could be adjusted for height and throw according to the level of the users mobility/strength, possibly even sloppy enough to require a flick to press.

      Hasn’t anything like this ever been kickstarted? It seems like if ever there was a worthy cause that should be funded, this would be it.

      I actually find it a bit shameful that the industry hasn’t ever done anything to address this themselves, I appreciate there’s no margin in it for them but some things aren’t about the margins and are more about doing the right thing, they gouge more than enough money out of peoples pockets to pay it forwards one time, with meaning, from the heart.

    4. Wouldn’t a standard electronic base help in general? As in, either a microcontroller or a hacked-up original controller, that can be plugged into whatever switches suit the individual user? Then you could use arcade buttons, or bigger sticks, or whatever custom made per user.

      For this particular problem, I dunno if a mechanical solution would be the most reliable or sturdy. Pneumatics have give, and levers might overbalance the controller so it flips out of hand.

      Why not just open up the controller, solder 2 wires to the trigger switch, then attach a replacement button wherever the user needs it? That way the only mechanical force applied is to a button, and they’re designed for that! Shouldn’t take a month to crack open a joypad and solder some wires. Possibly some joypads are more amenable to this than others.

      This idea would be digital-only, no analogue button sense, but how many games use that anyway? You could use resistors to replace 1 analogue button with 2 or more digital ones if you needed analogue. Or a pot in series with a button. For users who have less fine-muscle control than analogue triggers require.

      1. BTW I realise mine is an electrical solution, though a basic one. But I’m not sure this is a problem a 3D printer is the best answer to. With levers you’ve got torque x distance, you have to make one up with the other. And speed of pressing and un-pressing often matters. You might end up needing stronger fingers to work a mechanical solution.

  2. So I’m not disabled, but my work with Hackaday has me typing a lot. I have a great ergonomic keyboard and a very good chair to sit in (I also wear wrist gators most of the time I’m at the computer).

    Still, I get horrible hand pain when gaming for long periods of time (cough…. GTA V). I’m interested in seeing if the solution to Caleb’s challenge would help those of use with hands bigger than the SixAxis controller is designed for?

  3. Unfortunately I don’t have the tools to make my idea or the skills to adequately draw it, but I will explain it for those who can.

    2 levers per side on an axle that sits just below the top shoulder button. One lever can be pushed down to actuate the shoulder button. The other must be pushed forward to pushed forward to compress the trigger, this trigger is also next to a fine toothed ratchet gear. A slide inside this lever contains a small metal pin which will lock against the ratchet gear or can be slid to the top and locked in place by a friction fit(ratchet for racing, locked for fps). Extending the pin far enough should allow you to make it skip the ratchet steps back up by bumping it lightly.

    I don’t care if I get a prize, but if someone wants to take that and turn it into a prototype or detailed design, go for it and good luck.

  4. I’m curious as to what particular disability you want to help. What fingers do you want the function of the shoulder buttons transfered to. What motion CAN the prospected clients make. All of this is very important when designing a replacement mechanism.

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